Jacinda Ardern is young and female: Is that why some people have a problem with her – John MacDonald

OPINION:

It seems a lot of people are in a bit of a flurry today – trying to make sense of what the Government’s announcement yesterday – about the changes in the Covid rules – means for them.

One of the things our family has got an eye on is what the removal of limits on the number of people who can gather outdoors means for the Maadi Cup rowing champs in Twizel next week.

Our twin teenagers row for Cashmere High and they’ll be there all next week. And there’s a lot of work being done behind the scenes today to work out whether it’s even going to be possible to allow spectators at this late stage – when all the planning and organising’s been done on the assumption that no spectators will be allowed.

There’s also a lot of head-scratching in the hospitality sector which is, quite rightly, not too fussed about the fact that indoor limits are going up from 100 to 200 – but people still have to be seated and separated. Doesn’t make much sense, does it?

And then there are the genuine health concerns some people are talking about, saying the Government appears to have thrown in the towel – pretty much smack bang in the middle of the Omicron outbreak – and is doing away with a lot of the rules and telling us we’re all part of the great big melting pot of vaccinated and unvaccinated again.

This raises the question, is the Government making these changes because it’s down in the polls? Or because it genuinely believes now is the perfect time? Well, what do you think? I think it’s purely political because so much of it doesn’t make sense.

I thought Covid-19 Minister Chris Hipkins was quite revealing when he spoke to Mike this morning when he said: “The hospital system is very full. The hospitals are “relatively under strain.”

As I’ve said many times, according to the Government’s traffic light system, the red setting means action is needed to protect the health system.

So, by saying today that hospitals are very full and under strain, Chris Hipkins is making it very clear that what was announced yesterday was political – pure and simple – as so much of the Covid response has, and will probably continue to be.

Because if the hospitals are under strain, why is the Government throwing out most of the rules it brought in to protect the hospital system in the first place?

The answer to that is that the Government – like all governments and all politicians – wants to be popular. And that’s why the Government is doing what it’s doing. It’s playing politics.

Nevertheless, that doesn’t excuse the awful way some people have reacted to the Prime Minister’s announcement yesterday. Which I think says a lot about where the country is at, at the moment.

I’ve got a theory as to why I think some people say such terrible things about Jacinda Ardern, and I’ll get to that.

Now don’t think for a minute that I have no idea how the pandemic – or, in particular, the way the Government has handled the response to the pandemic – has impacted people’s lives.

Yes, I’ve got a job. I haven’t lost a business. But it’s impacted me and my family in other ways. An old friend was supposed to have a 50th birthday in Auckland last year – but the Government put us in lockdown and the party was cancelled. She died a few weeks ago.

I am well aware of the impact the Government’s Covid response has had. And I’ve been the first to call them a bunch of control freaks, at times. You’ve heard me say it.

But never have you heard me say some of the terrible things that get said about the Prime Minister. And you never will – and not just Jacinda Ardern, any prime minister. Any person actually when it comes down to it.

But some people feel so compelled to crucify her with words, and I try on a daily basis to work out why.

Well, I think that, even though it’s 2022, a fair amount of people in this country still can’t cope with the fact that we have a young female Prime Minister. Emphasis on the young. Because I know we’ve had female prime ministers before – but neither of them were as young as Jacinda Ardern.

And I do think there are people in this country who still think the only person who should be running a country is a white middle-aged guy in a suit.

I can think of one. And he seems to be pretty popular at the moment.

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